What we’re reading in March..

Narrative and Freedom: The Shadows of Time by Gary Saul Morson

INarrative and Freedom: The Shadows of Time…‘ve been reading two books by a literary critic that I like a lot named Gary Saul Morson.  He wrote a great book about Anna Karenina called Anna Karenina in Our Time: Seeing More Wisely, so I was curious to learn about his other work.  One book, Narrative and Freedom: The Shadows of Time, is about how certain novelists, like Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, create stories that convey a sense of time as open, even if the novelist knows what is going to happen.  It also talks about how novelists represent free will in their characters, and fight against an interpretation of the world as deterministic.  The second book, Mikhail Bakhtin: Creation of a Prosaics, co-authored with Caryl Emerson, is about the work of a Russian literary critic and philosopher named Mikhail Bakhtin, who came up with some very innovative and exciting ways of thinking about the novel as a genre.  Morson is a wonderful, lucid, and deep thinker, and I’m enjoying these books very much.   Andrew

The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchison

The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun…Sixteen-year-old Elena is the product of a virgin birth (it’s a real thing with a scientific explanation).  She also hears voices and can perform miracles (there is no scientific explanation for this).  Elena is just trying to navigate normal high school crushes and family drama, and she really doesn’t have time to save the world.  Also, she’s not really sure she should be saving it. This is a truly bizarre and thought-provoking novel for fans of A.S. Kind and Libba Bray’s Going Bovine. Megan

The Feminist’s Guide to Raising a Little Princess: How to Raise a Girl Who’s Authentic, Joyful, and Fearless – Even If She Refuses to Wear Anything But a Pink Tutu  by Devorah Blachor

The Feminist's Guide to Raising a…This book is really all about the importance of being a good role model as a parent and letting your child be who she wants to be.   The book dives into the history of the Disney princess culture and how it has evolved over the years and has affected our culture, specifically our young daughters. I found the book to be somewhat lacking in concrete insight for navigating the logistics of fostering my child’s authentic self while she is very drawn to the imagery and excitement of princess culture.  Beth

I Hate Fairyland by  Scottie Young

I Hate Fairyland Volume 1: Madly Ever After…Do you love/hate fairy tales? Hero journeys? Landscapes made of candy? Have you ever wondered what would happen if Dorothy hadn’t found her way back to Kansas? Then you will enjoy this graphic novel. I hate Fairyland (Volume 1) follows the story of Gert, a green haired, ax wielding, foul mouthed, middle aged 6 year old (In Fairyland, time goes by but you don’t age). Gert hasn’t really taken the conventional path to finding her way back home and after a few decades of failed riddles and violent vendettas she may have worn out her welcome. A hilarious, graphic-graphic novel.  Greg

 

March. Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell

March: Book One by John LewisThis autobiographical graphic novel relates the early life of Senator John Lewis from his rural upbringing on an Alabama farm through his early involvement in the Nashville Civil Rights Movement.  March does a very nice job of providing the larger context of the movement and what is happening outside of Nashville and Lewis’s immediate world.  However, the authors manage to keep the story from losing focus of Lewis personal experience and the impact that creates.  This is done in part by having the story told from Senator Lewis’ own voice as he provides an impromptu tour of his office on Inauguration Day, just before President Obama is about to be sworn into office for the first time.  A fascinating and powerful read. Trent

 The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen When Johanna Langley’s father Sir Hugo suddenly dies, Johanna wants to understand what happened to him during WWII. He was a British bomber pilot who was shot down over German-occupied Tuscany near the town of San Salvatore. Local resident Sofia Bartoli tended to his needs at severe risk to herself, family and village. When Johanna visits San Salvatore 30 years later, no one remembers her father or wants to talk about Sophia. A treat for fans of historical fiction. Emma

Evicted by Matthew Desmond

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American…This book has been on my radar for several years, and being the chosen book  for One Community Reads, I  finally dove into it, and I am so very happy I did.  This is a grim read but a necessary read.  Author, Matthew Desmond does an excellent job of engaging the reader in a piece of non fiction.  He introduces the reader to eight families in Milwaukee living in poverty and struggling with eviction.  Readers learn about the business and culture of evictions, while getting a glimpse of what it’s like to live in some of the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee.  Many residents are spending more than half of their meager income on housing.  For most, what money is left after paying rent simply isn’t enough to get by, hence, starts a downward spiral leading to evictions.  The fates of the eight families in this book are in the hands of two landlords.  I couldn’t help but feel that there is blood on the hands of everyone.  Desmond spent years living in these neighborhoods, painstakingly taking notes and recording events.  I highly recommend this book to everyone. Mary

Monkey Mind by Daniel Smith

Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety by Daniel…Having several friends and family members who suffer from anxiety, I wanted to read a book to help me understand and empathize with them. Monkey Mind, so far, has done the trick. It is an extremely eye-opening memoir about the onset and treatment of Daniel Smith’s anxiety disorder. He intersperses stories about his own life with research and writings about anxiety from scientists and philosophers like Kirkegaard and Freud. When the audiobook starts to feel overwhelming (because Daniel Smith’s rehearsals of his absurd, painful, and self-destructive thought patterns can be just that), I remind myself that this is how it is to live with anxiety, and that I am one of the lucky ones who can turn off the audiobook and walk away. The book is not 100% heavy and dramatic, though — Daniel Smith’s dry humor about the situations he finds himself in is one of the strengths of the book. Trigger warning: the author does not shy away from sharing a story about how he was raped at 16, and while he documents what happened (in my opinion) tactfully, it is still distressing. Lindsey

Where I Lost Her by T. Greenwood

Where I Lost Her by T. GreenwoodEight years after many failed fertility treatments and a tragic adoption, Tess is still grieving and bitter as she visits her childhood friend in her hometown in rural Vermont. Torn between her great love for her best friend’s two daughters and her jealousy of the life they lead, as well as the growing rift in her marriage, Tess’ visit is fraught with emotion.  While driving home from a late night liquor store run, Tess sees a small, wounded half-naked little girl in her headlights on the dark country road.  When she stops to help, the girls disappears into the woods.  As Tess calls together the community to search for her, she finally finds a sense of purpose until those around her begin to suspect she was drunk,  broken-hearted and imagined the whole thing.  This book is a great look into grief, relationships, healing and what matters in life.  Sara

Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory

Spoonbenders: A novel by Daryl GregoryIn the 1970s, the Amazing Telemachus family toured the U.S. as psychic performers, led by patriarch/con-man Teddy and the genuinely talented Maureen. Debunked on national television, they lost their notoriety. Twenty years later, they’re all struggling with real world problems, albeit with a psychic dimension. Irene, a human lie detector test, can’t maintain a relationship and has brought her son Matty home to live with her father. Raconteur Frankie, who practices telekinesis, can’t get his business off the ground and is in hock to a local mobster. Buddy, the youngest, sees the future, and is steadily working to prevent it, even if it means building holes in the backyard. Told in alternating chapters from each character’s point of view, this quirky tale of family, mobsters, the CIA and first love, is a hoot – funny, crazy and tender. I listened to it on audiobook and it was a treat! Dori

 

 

 

 

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Ann’s Top Ten 2017

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Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light. –Vera Nazarian

10. NUMMER ZEHN        THE DRYJane Harper

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9. NUMÉRO NEUF           I LET YOU GOClare Mackintosh

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8. NUMERO OCHO          THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL ANGRY PLANETBecky Chambers

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7. 數字七                              A CLOSED AND COMMON ORBITBecky Chambers

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6. NUMER SZEŚĆ             I FOUND YOU– Lisa Jewell

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5. NUMERO CINQUE      TWO IF BY SEAJacqueline Mitchard

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4. ÀIREAMH CEITHIR     THE LATE SHOWMichael Connelly

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3. NUMBER ਤੀਹ                HUM IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE WORDSBiance Marais

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2. NUMMER TO                THE CHILD FINDERRene Denfeld

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1. INOMBOLO YOKUQALA   THE KIND WORTH KILLING– Peter Swanson

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                                                                                                                                                      ~Ann >^.^<

 

It’s a Suspenseful and Thrilling Summer!

We each selected a book that could be described as suspense (lots of action in a short period of time and appeals to reader’s sense of unease) or as a thriller (a specific, often exotic, world that emphasize defeating the villain.) And then we discussed those books we picked! Ready? ‘Cause here we go:

Beth: Flynn Berry’s debut novel Under the Harrow is a fast paced thriller packed with unpredictable turns. The protagonist, Nora, takes a routine trip to the country to visit her sister, but upon arrival discovers her sister has been brutally murdered. The rest of the book uncovers secrets from the past as a grief stricken Nora tries to solve her sister’s murder.

Carol: In She’s Not There by Joy Fielding, Caroline Shipley’s life crumbles when her two-year-old daughter, Samantha is kidnapped on their family vacation in Mexico. Caroline’s marriage ends, her relationship with her older daughter suffers, and Caroline is vilified by the press for the perceived parental negligence that led to the kidnapping. Now, fifteen years later, Caroline gets a call from a young woman who says she thinks she is Samantha—and things tailspin once again. Though at times an emotional read, this novel psychological suspense is relatively free of the graphic violence often associated with suspense/thrillers.

Emma: In Darkness by Karen Robards, ornithologist Dr. Gina Sullivan is on a research expedition with other scientists on the island of Attu, Alaska. Gina is out on a lake in severe winter weather when she witnesses a plane crash. There is one survivor, James MacArthur Callahan (Cal). Gina rescues him, but danger sets in immediately. Together they battle the environment and countless enemies who are after Cal. I feel the cover of the book is a little misleading. This is not a light romance but an interesting serious thriller.

Sara: I read the book The Good Goodbye by Carla Buckley. This is a story of two cousins, Arden and Rory, who have been like sisters their whole lives. They end up as roommates at a college neither girl wanted to attend because of the financial mistakes of their parents who own a restaurant together. There is a terrible fire in their dorm, both girls are critically injured and comatose, and one boy is dead. As police investigate the blaze, they begin to suspect that Arden started the fire. Her mother Natalie is sure of her innocence, and digs for details of her daughter’s life to find the truth. In doing this she finds she did not really know her daughter or niece at all, and that the girls knew more about the family secrets than they had ever let on. Told in the voices of Arden, Rory and Natalie this book is hard to put down and full of surprises til the very end.

Dori: In Noah Hawley’s Before the Fall, a private plane unexpectedly crashes off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard shortly into the flight and there are only two survivors: a down on his luck painter, invited at the last minute, and the small son of the wealthy family who had hired the plane. What happened? As the National Transportation Safety Board and the FBI investigate the crash, we learn about the passengers and their backgrounds, trying to discover who caused the crash. There’s the head of a FOX TV-like media conglomerate, a man about to get arrested for selling arms to terrorists, an Israeli bodyguard and the painter, whose last paintings depict a series of disasters, including a plane crash. Hawley, a television writer and producer, keeps us turning the pages and delivers a completely unexpected outcome.

Steve: Velocity by Dean Koontz is a horrific thriller that finds small town bartender Billy Wiles drawn into a nightmare after finding a note under his windshield wiper offering an unwinnable 6 hour ultimatum. If he doesn’t go to the police, a blond schoolteacher will be killed, and if he does go to the police an elderly charity worker will die. Billy and his friend, who happens to be the sheriff, play it off as a sick joke, but he next day a blond school teacher is found dead. Things get exceedingly worse for Billy.

Megan: The Trespasser by Tana French is the sixth installment in the Dublin Murder Squad series. Detectives Antoinette Conway and Stephen Moran are the newest members of the squad and therefore are usually assigned the cut and dry cases. This seems to be the situation when they are handed a murder case that appears to be a simple lover’s quarrel turned deadly. However, as the pair digs into the details they become increasingly convinced that this case is just a little too simple. Conway begins to doubt her instincts as well as her partner’s intentions as the evidence piles up to indicate someone on her own squad is out to get her. Is she being paranoid or is there more to this case than meets the eye? This is another brilliant addition to the series. The psychological tension and suspense kept me up late into the wee hours. This book doesn’t release until October, so if you aren’t familiar with the Dublin Murder Squad now is the time to get started!

Lauren: Lydia Millet’s Sweet Lamb of Heaven finds Anna hiding out in a motel in Maine with her young daughter, Lena. They have left their home in Alaska and fled from Anna’s husband, an uncaring and increasingly dangerous man who has never shown the slightest interest in his daughter until he aims for a political career and begins his first campaign for office. Then he needs a trophy family and Anna and Lena find themselves on the run. Holed up in the motel with a small group of other guests and keeping constantly vigilant, Anna slowly realizes that she and the other guests may not have come together by chance at all.

Stacey: The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood is what they like to call a “literary thriller” (in the library biz.) As the story begins, a small group of women have been abducted and taken to a remote location in the Australian Outback, had their heads shaved, and dressed in rough cloth to begin their punishment for promiscuity. As the women fight to survive harsh conditions, the tension builds around who’s responsible and when will they reveal their ultimate goal in holding these ladies hostage.

Next time? We’ll all be reading a Beach Reads book (ie something we’d be happy to take to the beach -or the porch!) Find something you’d like to read in the sun, or shade, just because it’s summertime!

enjoy!
Stacey

2015: It’s a Mystery

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“Nobody reads a mystery to get to the middle. They read it to get to the end. If it’s a letdown, they won’t buy anymore. The first page sells that book. The last page sells your next book.”                        MICKEY SPILLANE

My 2015 list this year includes Mystery, Suspense, and Thrillers!

Thereby Hangs a Tail by Spencer Quinn. Chet the Dog is so famous he has his own website- http://www.chetthedog.com/

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica. The “good girl” runs into a bundle of trouble.

Last Words by Michael Koryta. He didn’t know it at the time, but they were the last words he spoke to her.

Little Black Lies by Sandra Block. Black lies are definitely worse than white lies.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. No doubt this will be on many best lists!

The Night Ferry by Michael Robotham. This ferry will take you on a wild ride.

Orient by Christopher Bollen. Strange things are occuring in the town of Orient on Long Island.

The Wild Inside by Christine Carbo. Some parts of this book are “unbearably grizzly”!

One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis. A twisty, psychological thriller debut novel.

The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain. Another winner from author Chamberlain.

~Ann

I’m Thrilled by the Suspense of it all…. in the Thriller and Suspense Genre!

We kept the excitement going by moving from horror to horribly exciting – aka a suspense or thriller book! Se all our books were either: 1. a suspenseful book emphasizing danger faced by a protagonist or 2. a thrilling book set in a specific world such as the courtroom, medical laboratory, or government agency, with an emphasis on the defeat of the villain and his conspirators. As usual, the list of what people read should have something for just about every reader -Are you ready to see which book appeals to you?

Maureen: When Nora decides to accept an invitation to attend her former best friend Clare’s hen (bachelorette) party after not seeing her in years, the ball is set in motion for what is sure to be a very strange weekend indeed in the chilling debut psychological thriller In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware. A tiny select group of Clare’s friends gather for the November party at the remote, wooded summer house of party organizer, Flo, who herself seems oddly obsessed with Clare and overly concerned with everyone making sure this is the best weekend ever. As the partygoers drink, play games, and swap stories, long-buried memories are dredged up, secrets that people want to stay hidden are revealed, and emotions run high. Then the unthinkable happens – a horrific accident – that will bring all of the events of the past back to haunt those involved. A smart and top rate thriller that will keep you guessing!

Chris: See How Small by Scott Blackwood begins with three teenage girls finishing up their night shift at the ice cream shop when two men walk in, murder them and set the store on fire. All in two and one-half pages. That’s all the violence in this book which is more than fine with me. The rest of the book tells how family members, friends and the town mourn and grieve their deaths over the years. Wonderfully written and very unique: the first chapter is from the point of view of the deceased girls—Elizabeth, Meredith and Zadie. Alternate points of view join them throughout the story including one of the mothers, a witness, a possible suspect and family members. Just discovered Blackwood and plan on reading his other two novels: In the Shadow of Our House and We Agreed to Meet Just Here.

Lauren:In Mary Higgins Clark’s, The Melody Lingers On, New York City interior designer Lane Harmon is called to assist her boss in redecorating a condominium for a high profile client. The client turns out to be the wife of scam-artist financier, Parker Bennett, who disappeared two years prior after making off with billions of investor dollars. Did Bennett commit suicide or fake his own death in making his escape? Is he innocent of any wrongdoing as his wife believes? And could his son, Eric, who quickly charms Lane, be involved somehow? This latest book from the “Queen of Suspense” was not as enjoyable as some of her classics I remember reading and loving years ago, but loyal fans of her work may find it fun.

Carol: In In Wilderness by Diane Thomas, it is 1966 and advertising executive Katherine Reid has received a terminal diagnosis. She relocates to an isolated cabin deep in the Appalachian Mountains with few provisions, including the loaded gun she plans to use on herself. Once alone and surrounded by only nature, however, Katherine begins to feel better—until she realizes that someone else is watching her every move. Unstable twenty-year-old Vietnam veteran Danny is squatting nearby in a burned out mansion and he’s become fixated on Katherine. When the two eventually meet, both lonely and damaged and ill, they begin a passionate love affair–but it is one that won’t have a happy ending. Despite its creepy premise, this novel is a poignant and compelling read about PTSD, depression, grief, loneliness and mortality. I couldn’t put it down.

Emma: In Black-Eyed Susan: A Novel of Suspense by Julia Heaberline it’s 1995 and 16-year-old Tessa Cartwright is left for dead partially buried with another victim of a serial killer. The convicted killer, Terrell Darcy Goodwin, faces execution after 20 years in prison. Tessa is convinced that the wrong man is in jail and works with Terrell’s defense attorney and a DNA expert to determine the identity of the victims and the true killer. The novel includes lots of twists and turns and an unexpected ending.

Steve: Hot Pursuit by Stuart Woods finds the wealthy and well-connected Stone Barrington back for another adventure. Stone is jet-setting in his new plane to Europe with the beautiful Pat Frank, the pilot that has been assigned to him by his insurance company, and they soon run into trouble. Pat’s stalker ex-boyfriend keeps showing up in all the same locations. Meanwhile, back in Washington Stone’s friends in the government are hunting three Al Qaeda terrorists who have infiltrated the country. There’s not much depth in these characters, but the action is non-stop.

Dori: Vanishing Games by Roger Hobbs, is the second in a trilogy about a fixer, a criminal that lives off the grid and leaves no footprint. Introduced in Ghostman, “Jack” returns in this outing to help Angela, the woman who trained him, whose plan to steal sapphires from a ship in the South China Sea has gone awry. Only one pirate has returned from the operation and he’s hiding something that is far more valuable than sapphires. After she gets a threatening phone call from a mysterious man, she contacts Jack who hasn’t seen Angela since their last crime. After landing in Macau, together they evade gangs, governments and guns. It’s an adrenalin filled ride and takes us behind the scenes and through the ins and outs of criminal life. It’s bloody and graphic; identities are changed, self-surgery is performed and oh yeah, so many guns!

Megan: The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne is a page-turner of a psychological thriller. A year after one of Sarah and Angus’s twin daughters dies, the couple and their surviving daughter move to an isolated island to begin rebuilding their lives as they rebuild the abandoned house on the island. Instead of finding refuge, Sarah finds herself living a nightmare when her daughter Kirstie begins claiming that she is in fact Lydia, the daughter they thought they buried. All their lives unravel as the family struggles to cope with what really happened the day their daughter died. Family dynamics and a slow building tension will keep readers desperate to know which twin survived. Bonus points for the creepy, isolated island setting!

Stacey: The Enemy Inside is Steve Martini’s newest novel featuring Paul Madriani a Southern California lawyer who’s taken on the case of Alex Ives, a young reporter being held responsible for a fatal car accident. The victim was high-powered D.C. attorney Olinda Serna, a woman with shady connections on both coasts. When more ‘accidents’ happen to people connected to her cases, the original car wreck takes on new dimensions. I haven’t read any of the previous books in this series but it didn’t stop me from enjoying the fast-paced action, entertaining characters, and surprising twists the author provided.

Next time? We’ll be reading and sharing Holiday stories! If you want to read along, you’ll want to find a book that features any Winter Holiday…. it’s almost too easy, isn’t it?

enjoy!
Stacey

Broken Promise by Linwood Barclay -Book Review!

Bookworm's World: You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #55

After losing his job, reporter David Harwood is back home living with his parents and 9 year-old son in the small college town of Promise Falls, NY–a town that has seen better days. The daily paper has folded, there’s been women attacked on campus, strange animal mutilations, and the local amusement park isn’t reopening.

When David goes to visit his cousin Marla, he is shocked to see her with a baby she claims was given to her by an angel. Her own child died at birth, so where did this one come from?

Linwood Barclay is a master at making everyday actions seem sinister and threatening. And, since “Broken Promise” is the first of a planned trilogy, he leaves lots of loose ends.

-by Evelyn Janoch